Said Russell Brown:
… I doubt that history will assess the Clark-Cullen Labour governments as dismissively as their critics do now. Labour’s real achievements – net government debt reduced from 20 billion to two billion before the current crisis; unemployment down to levels many people didn’t think possible; a huge drop in the number of welfare beneficiaries, especially per capita; real wage growth; GDP growth that outstripped the OECD for years; a historic turnaround of trends in poverty; the repair of a public sector that was in dire straits by the end of the 90s; a serious attempt to address our savings problem via KiwiSaver and the Superannuation Fund; and a degree of stability that we now all take for granted – outweigh any counterfactual.
In 20 years’ time, those achievements will be regarded as prodigious and defining of an era. The fact that Helen Clark signed a painting for charity, or that her car once went really fast with a police escort on an open road; or the absurd mythology constructed around the departure of an under-performing police commissioner; none of these will be thought of as anything important.